DOJ Probes Verizon, AT&T, GSMA Collusion over eSIM Technology

22 April, 2018, 01:45 | Author: Darrell Baldwin
  • REUTERS  Mario Anzuoni  File

The investigation was opened after the Justice Department recieved formal complaints from at least one wireless carrier and one device maker. With an eSIM embedded in a handset, the user doesn't have to swap a SIM card on a phone to change carriers.

The Justice Department, the GSMA and Apple have all declined to comment on the situation.

eSIM is a technology that eliminates the need for a physical SIM card, which has traditionally been needed to switch carriers. eSIM allows carriers to switch carriers remotely without the need to purchase a new SIM card.

The Justice Department is investigating an alleged case of collusion, but this has nothing to do with President Donald J. Trump and Russian Federation.

Verizon and AT&T acknowledged the government probe and said they were working with regulators.

A Verizon spokesperson called the investigation "much ado about nothing", brushing off the matter as little more than a "difference of opinion" regarding eSIM standards. The DOJ's investigation could show that the companies along with the GSMA were trying to influence the development of this technology in order to maintain their market dominance.




The technology is now available on some devices, including Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch and Microsoft's Surface Pro LTE tablet.

News of the probe comes at a critical time for AT&T which is being sued by the Justice Department to stop its deal to buy media company Time Warner Inc (TWX.N). Other companies have since voiced similar concerns, the report said. In late 2013, under pressure by the Federal Communications Commission, the wireless industry agreed to let people take devices off any particular network without penalty once the devices were fully paid for.

"The actions would limit choice for consumers and harm competition", said Ferras Vinh, a policy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Harold Fled, a VP of them consumer protection group Public Knowledge, said that he was briefed on a meeting previous year where AT&T and Verizon discussed pushing for device locking, and Verizon claimed that it needed to protect against theft and fraud.

He previously warned of the potential for "cartel-like behavior" by competitors that got together with standards-setting organizations.

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